30 April 2007

Rolling Stone Magazine's 40 Songs that Changed The World

Since I don't have to sell records or advertising here, I can categorically state that this list from Rolling Stone magazine is: one song stolen from Willie Dixon, some good videos, a few I haven't heard, and 30 great ones.

Bye the bye, no The Who at all, and one from Britney Spears! I hope Rolling Stone "won't get fooled again".

If you are unfamiliar with The Cure (song number 34), Just Live Heaven is just like that, just like heaven. Love ya' Trish.

26 April 2007

Jack Valenti's Dead; No, No, No, No, He's Up on the Screen, looking down

If it wasn't for Jack Valenti, Midnight Cowboy would never have been rated X.

25 April 2007

Emmylou Harris & Linda Ronstadt: "For A Dancer" (Post I)

On Jackson Browne's break-out album Late for the Sky, he wrote a song that makes me cry every time I listen to Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris sing it on Western Wall / The Tucson Sessions.

It's the story of my life:

For A Dancer

Late For The Sky (1974)

Keep a fire burning in your eye
Pay attention to the open sky
You never know what will be coming down
I don't remember losing track of you
You were always dancing in and out of view
I must've thought you'd always be around
Always keeping things real by playing the clown
Now you're nowhere to be found

I don't know what happens when people die
Can't seem to grasp it as hard as I try
It's like a song I can hear playing right in my ear
That I can't sing
I can't help listening
I can't help feeling stupid standing 'round
Crying as they eased you down
'Cause I know that you'd rather we were dancing
Dancing our sorrow away
(Right on Dancing)
No matter what Fate chooses to play
(There's nothing you can do about it anyway)

Just do the steps that you've been shown
By everyone you've ever known
Until the dance becomes your very own
No matter how close to yours
Another's steps have grown
In the end there is one dance you'll do alone

Keep a fire for the human race
Let your prayers go drifting into space
You never know what will be coming down
Perhaps a better world is drawing near
Just as easily it could all disappear
Along with whatever meaning you might have found
Don't let the uncertainty turn you around
(The world keeps turning around and around)
Go on and make a joyful sound

Into a dancer you have grown
From a seed somebody else has thrown
Go on ahead and throw some seeds of your own
And somewhere between the time you arrive
And the time you go
May lie a reason you were alive

That you'll never know

13 April 2007

One of the Novelists of the 20th Century that Changed Our Lives

Satirical / historical novelist Kurt Vonnegut -- dead at 84.

Requiescat in Pace;


Breakfast of Champions


10 April 2007

"We Achieved Lift Off."


Thanks to Benson Williams for inspiring this post.

* * * * *

My job here is to get you to go to the library and check out this DVD. Let's see if I can close the deal.

Metaphorically and atmospherically, Festival Express is the perfect middle movement to a Woodstock opening and an Altamont end to the era of the rock festival.

You will find a narrative description of the train ride and gigs at Wikipedia's entry.

Bob Weir, discussing the train ride years later, described the party the night after the artists had drank the train dry, and the promoters demanded an unscheduled stop outside a Saskatoon liquor store. The train restocked, remembering that for most of these cats drinking was something quite new, with Janis and The Band as notable exceptions. Well, the giant display bottle of Canadian Club was doctored with acid capsules and had the train "buzzin' down the tracks. ... We achieved lift off."

Unlike many of the rock festivals of the era, Festival Express is the idea and creation of one promoter, the business savvy Ken Walker. Rolling with the after-Woodstock-before-Altamont spirit of the times, Walker came up with the notion to put the festival on a rented, decked out CN train headed west from Toronto to Calgary. 'No cafeteria car' Walker told CN; he wanted a full service dining car that was soon to become the Festival Express Bar & Grill -- with amps and all the gear and Canadian Club the artists would need to jam down the rails.

Walker was a patron of the arts, not a hippie quasi-businessman. Uniquely, at a dollar per supergroup, there were no free concerts along this trail. More importantly, the train gave Janis, Jerry, Buddy and Levon the chance to, rather than pass each other backstage, ride that train together for a non-stop party in the bar car rolling from the Great Lakes to the Rockies. The musicians and crews got a rare chance to party "like it's 1999" -- and what a party it was.

* * * * *

I'll never forget the one time a friend dragged me to a Dead tribute band club gig in the late 80's in Baltimore. It was fascinating to me that the girls, decked out in quasi-authentic hippie outfits had no clue how to do the tripping (literally) arms-waving-for-trailers shuffle dance so common at the 1969 rock festivals. Ladies, if you wanna learn how this dance is done, watch the Canadian girls in the crowd footage from Festival Express.

* * * * *

A good example of the naivete' of hippie logic is the concert-goers in Montreal that thought -- as the Woodstock gospel taught - they had a right to get into the festival free. Well, promoter Walker was ready for the inevitable protests with mounted security forces. The problem did not get out of hand, and took a time-out once the supergroup bar car pulled out of Montreal's station and headed west. West across the great North American prairie.

Ticket sale protest continued All Down the Line. It became apparent to Walker that, even though all investors were too lose money on this adventure, the "ridin' that train, high on cocaine" party for the artists was to continue as planned. Some rare Janis Joplin footage of a bar car rehearsal jam illustrates why. Here we see Janis relaxing, smoking a cigarette with guitar masters on all sides working out the multi-part harmonies for various songs. On the Festival Express, the artists came first.

* * * * *
What separates Festival Express film from the far better Woodstock and the Maysles Brothers' / Zwerin's Gimme Shelter (which I've written about here and here) is both the more profound / diverse music and also the better work by the film directors. Despite the 'flaws in the fine leather', the director's cut of Woodstock and tragic, foreboding elegance of Gimme Shelter are history right up in your face. Festival Express boils down to a Janis Joplin love letter with The Band -- Richard Manuel and Garth Hudson in particular -- covering her back with a mystical audio shroud. And Buddy Guy startin' down the Delta bluesman highway.

Janis Joplin sings this love letter back to close the film:

I figure if you're a woman
Man, if you're really a woman
You already know what you need, man.
You already know what you're looking for,
Man, I found out out at fourteen years old
And I been lookin' for it every since, too, man.

But, if you happen to be a young cat,
You know like about seventeen years old, just about
If you happen to be a young cat and you ain't figured it out yet,
I'll tell you what you need, baby,
When you got those strange thoughts in your head
You got those strange little weirdenesses happening to you, you don't know what they are
I'll tell ya what you need —

You need a sweet lovin' mama, babe,
Honey, sweet talkin' mama, babe.
You need a sweet lovin' mama, babe.
Honey, sweet talkin' mama, babe.

You need someone to listen to you,
Someone to want you,
Someone to hold you
Someone to need you
Someone to use you
Someone to want you
Someone to need you
Someone to hold you
Someone to want you
Someone to hold you

You need a mama, mama, mama, mama, mama, baby

An' I'll make everything alright, yeah!
Hey! Yeah!!!!

(excepts from Janis' cover of Tell Mama (1966, by C. Carter) live at the Fest. Ex.)

Janis' superlative vocal high-priestess of Texas cool is, as they say: liver than you'll ever be. By the end, I was convinced Janis could indeed make everything alright. Rest in Peace dear Janis. Thanks for sending Lucinda Williams to take the edge off our grief, our loss.

Now turn the ignition of your hiking boots and get down to the library for some time travel on a DVD -- only stop allowed on the way back: Mommy Fortuna's Midnight Carnival Cafe at the corner of Haight and Ashbury Streets. You don't need to look for the intersection, man, it'll find you. If it doesn't, call Buddy Guy person-to-person in Chicago for directions.

08 April 2007

Everything But the Girl


Yin / Yang: How about a Nice Steak? "... [S]ilent and bloody ...."


Happy End of Lent.


03 April 2007

April 4th: What More in the Name of Love?

Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968, on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. That balcony is pictured above.


One man come in the name of love
One man come and go
One man come, he to justify
One man to overthrow

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love

One man caught on a barbed wire fence
One man he resist
One man washed on an empty beach.
One man betrayed with a kiss

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love

(nobody like you...)

Early morning, April 4
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride

In the name of love
What more in the name of love

In the name of love

What more in the name of love

In the name of love

What more in the name of love...
(U2, 1984)

April 4th is also the anniversary of my father's birth. Different words, different wars, same love, same pride, same result. Dr. King, Capt. Budge: Requiescat in Pace. They are both dead now because of the strength of their pride and love.

02 April 2007

Risk of Ringo Being Soul Survivor

A deranged gentlemen broke through one layer of security at Sir Paul McCartney's estate on Friday. See story here. And Mark David Chapman still lives in Attica. Man, you don't have to go to the Middle East to find insane dung goin' down.

The authorities caught this Beatle-maniac. I hope Instant Karma does also.